Name: Hunter Orthmann
University: University of Iowa
Major: Mechanical engineering
Processor: Cochlear™ Nucleus® 5, bilateral
Meet Hunter, a 2018 Graeme Clark Scholarship winner! Hunter was born with hearing loss from a sickness that caused seizures and prevented him from breathing on his own after he was born.
Fortunately, he recovered from the sickness and was bilaterally implanted with the Cochlear™ Nucleus® System when he was 18 months old. At the time, he was the youngest person in the country to receive cochlear implants for auditory neuropathy.
Hunter said he is grateful that his parents decided to go ahead with the surgery, because it meant the best possible outcome for his hearing.
“I’m very glad (my parents) chose to implant me when they did,” he said. “They just wanted to give me the most normal life possible.”
Hunter grew up wearing a body-worn processor, and he said the fanny pack and cords could be frustrating when he wanted to run around and play sports.
“I was an active kid so that was a challenge,” he said. “I always wanted to be up and doing stuff.”
He said life became much easier when he upgraded to behind-the-ear processors.
“I hardly even notice them now,” he said. “I enjoy sound, I can hear normally for the most part, and then when I want complete silence I can have it.”
Hunter decided to pursue mechanical engineering because of his interest in high school science and math courses, and his goal of creating and innovating things to help others.
“I like the idea of developing new parts and being part of a team that works on something bigger,” he said. “It’s not what you can accomplish as an individual, it’s working together towards a common goal. Engineers are what keeps technological improvements moving, and I just wanted to really be a part of that.”
Hunter said he chose to attend the University of Iowa because of its engineering program, its athletics department, and its location.
Outside of school, he is involved in the Hawkeye Marching Band and campus ministry. In his free time, he enjoys playing and watching sports, hunting, and fishing.
“(My processors) have enabled me to do whatever I want to do,” he said. “I’m not being held back by my deafness thanks to my cochlear implants.”
Hunter said he finds inspiration in his church family and the positive people in his life.
“They inspire me not to just live my life but also to make sure I do well and to make a positive impact wherever I go,” he said. “People don’t remember you for what you say or do, but how you made them feel. I can definitely take that to heart … (and) I want to make others feel good when they’re around me.”
His advice for others with hearing loss is to live life to the fullest.
“My biggest advice would be, don’t let it be a setback,” he said. “You can still do anything you want to do— there’s no reason hearing loss can hold us back from accomplishing our goals and dreams. Others might think it’s a disability, but it’s really not. Just go out there and pursue your dreams with all you have.”
The Cochlear Graeme Clark Scholarship is a unique award open to Nucleus® Cochlear™ Implant recipients around the world. It honors academic achievement and a demonstrated commitment to the Cochlear ideals of leadership and humanity.